Created on 11-03-2016 at 15:40 PM
Will he play or not? In normal circumstances FCB fans are not especially interested in their opponents' key player, but it was totally different on Friday when the man in question was Claudio Pizarro. Right through the morning the former Bayern striker was rated doubtful for Saturday's encounter between FCB and Werder Bremen (Live in English from 18.30 CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio). “I hope and wish with all my heart that he'll be able to play,” said Pep Guardiola. News from Bremen arrived on Friday afternoon, and it was disappointing: Pizarro misses out with a groin injury.
The latest reunion at the Allianz Arena, where Pizza scored 23 of his 87 Bundesliga goals for Bayern, has to be postponed. “Claudio is incredible in the penalty area,” commented Guardiola: “It would be better for us if he were far away from our box.” Even though that wish has been granted, the Catalan would have given anything for it to be otherwise.
As it is, Bremen are without Pizarro, the top scorer in the second half of the Bundesliga campaign on nine goals, as well as Clemens Fritz and Zlatko Junuzovic, who both serve one-match bans. However, the side lying 13th in the table are still not to be taken lightly, the Reds boss insisted. “I expect the best possible Bremen. They want to turn in a good display and win,” Guardiola stressed. “Werder are having arguably their strongest phase of the season right now. We have to watch out.”
'Same situation as against Mainz'
The men from the north are unbeaten in three, most recently posting two consecutive 4-1 victories. According to Guardiola, Werder's qualities are “good defensive discipline, quick wingers and strong strikers.” The FCB head coach recalled the first meeting, when Bremen parked the bus in a 1-0 Bayern victory. “It's complicated. There's no space.” The Reds thus have to approach the match with focus and “lots of patience.”
Once again, Guardiola has a range of selection options with only Jérôme Boateng, Javi Martínez and Holger Badstuber definitely out of contention. The Catalan declined to say whether he would rotate his squad only four days before the Champions League Round of 16 return against Juventus. “It's the same situation as against Mainz. We know what happened then,” he warned, recalling the defeat in the most recent home fixture in between the trips to Wolfsburg and Dortmund. The German record champions are determined to secure a different outcome this time.
Pre-match news from Werder:
Unavailable: Claudio Pizarro (groin), Zlatko Junuzovic, Clemens Fritz (one-match bans), Fin Bartels (fever), Janek Sternberg (torn ligament), Philipp Bargfrede (meniscus surgery), Aron Johannsson (hip surgery)
Coach Victor Skripnik: “If Bayern are hungry and angry everyone knows what awaits their opponents. But in our situation we need every point, so we'll fight in Munich. Mainz’s victory in Munich has given the other clubs a boost.”